Chiropractor, Osteopath or Physiotherapist?

@GreenMoo (11842)
March 6, 2011 10:45am CST
I suffer with occasional back problems for which I seek professional help from time to time. I generally only visit someone when it becomes a real problem, which is fairly unusual, but tends to catch me unawares. In the past I used to see a chiropractor but more recently I've been seeing a physiotherapist, simply because she is close by. A friend swears by her osteopath. So what's the difference between the three? I've never quite worked it out! Have you any experience of using either of them? Would you recommend the treatment to someone else?
8 responses
@speakeasy (4215)
• United States
6 Mar 11
A chiropracter can realign joints and determine if they are out of place. A physiotherapist uses exercises to strengthen the muscles that connect to the joints. A osteopath is a medical doctor who has also studied chiropracty. Because he is an actual medical doctor he can prescribe medication if necessary (until realigning the joints and exercise can fix the problem); and, he can also determine if there is an underlying medical problem which is the cause of the pain in the first place. There are diseases that can weaken the bones, weaken the muscles, cause the nerves to misfire causing the muscles to not work properly, damage the cartilege between the joints, etc. See the osteopath and maybe he can tell you what the actual problem is that is causing this to be a recurring problem. I had back problems and finally saw an osteopath. He told me to stop doing the exercises that I was told to do (they were making the problem worse,) gave me 2 new exercises, and explained the cause of my problem in terms I could understand. Now, 31 years later my back rarely bothers me and I know in advance when it is going to happen because I know I did something that would make the problem come back (sometimes circumstances force you to do things you know you shouldn't do)
2 people like this
@GreenMoo (11842)
6 Mar 11
Thanks for the explanations! I just need to see someone very occasionally when life gets in the way of my being as careful as i should be!
1 person likes this
• India
7 Mar 11
Thanks for the wonderful explanation speakeasy.You have given the explanation is simple words, which everybody can understand. In India we do not have chiropracter or osteopaths. Of course we have orthopaedicians .Must check up with some orthos, whether they have studied chiropracty.Of course we have physiotherapists.
@p1kef1sh (45647)
6 Mar 11
In truth I don't know the difference. But both my parents go to a chiropractor regularly and swear by him. My mother suffers from osteoporosis causing curvature of he spine and she says that he has worked wonders on her posture.
@GreenMoo (11842)
6 Mar 11
I had to find someone whilst I was on the course as I did myself some damage travelling with my big rucksack. At the time I was just willing to see the first person who would give me an emergency appointment and he turned out to be a superb chiropractor, but it set me wondering. When I get home I have an appointment already set up with a physiotherapist simply chosen because she's close. It'll be interesting how their approach to the same problem differs.
@p1kef1sh (45647)
6 Mar 11
I think that physiotherapists tend to treat damaged areas specifically whilst the others are more holistic. I hope that it settles down when you get back. I saw an advert for a spa in the Algarve today. €130 per suite (2 people) per night. Where's my passport? LOL.
@Lore2009 (7389)
• United States
8 Mar 11
I was curious now, so I looked it up. Seems like chiropractor is mainly for the spine and the relation with nervous system. Osteopath is skeleton and muscles. Physiotherapist or physical therapist uses exercise/massage to restore health! Interesting!!!
@GreenMoo (11842)
10 May 11
It´s been interesting to find out the differences as I´ve always just gone by recommendation in the past.
@GardenGerty (90075)
• Marion, Kansas
7 Mar 11
An Osteopath, at least in the US is also a physician. If you have a health need, an osteopath will practice a more holistic type of medicine. One of my family doctors was an Osteopath, that is not why I chose him, but it was why he was good. He treated the whole person and he listened to us. I see a chiropractor, on occasion, when I have a particular need and can tell I am out of alignment. I have not seen a physical therapist. I think of PT as being for a long term need. I tend to go to a provider that I can trust and talk to, whatever the letters after their name mean. I think convenience is also a contributing factor.
@GreenMoo (11842)
10 May 11
I´ve always gone by recommendation before, but it´s been interesting to find out the differences.
@Hatley (157523)
• Garden Grove, California
6 Mar 11
hi GreenMoo I would really recommend your physiotherapist as I just got out of rehab hospital after a bad fall day after Valentine's day. I blacked both eyes, broke my nose which really does not hurt, made two fat welts above my right eye and ouch and pain twisted my right knee, In twenty days of great physical therapy I c an again bear to walk on that right leg. no other broken bones but my nose. I still h ave some pain thats controlled by Vicodon but am ever so much better. These people really worked with me and thankfully my hmo did cover it. I will start more therapy here at home in Gold Crest starting tomorrow. I would advise sticking with your physiotherapist. I do not know much about chiropracters or osteopaths either but p therapists work with the injured part and all other parts of your body, strengthening and building up your injured muscles. its all done gradually and carefully as they never made me work with them for longer than I could take it. I really think this team was just great.
@GreenMoo (11842)
10 May 11
Sorry it´s taken me so long to get back to my discussion Hatley. I´ve not had internet for ages. I hope you are fully recovered now.
@jillhill (37354)
• United States
6 Mar 11
I really don't know the difference. I am lucky to not have a problem with my back..but if I did I would check with a chiropractor first...
@GreenMoo (11842)
10 May 11
I´ve always gone with a recommendation rather than one specialty over another.
@dragon54u (31298)
• United States
6 Mar 11
An osteopath is a regular medical doctor who has extra training in muscles and joints. I went to one for years and was very happy with his treatment. They are doctors but better! I have scoliosis so they can't do much for my back but I hope your problems are few and far between.
@GreenMoo (11842)
6 Mar 11
An osteopath is the only one of the three I've never seen. They're all very skilled, I'm sure. I just need to go and see someone when life gets in the way of my taking as much care as I should!
@Anitismo (229)
• Bahamas
6 Mar 11
First have anyone diagnose the problem as yet, before you started going to all these other people like a internist due to your back problem may not only be a back problem, there may be millions of other things that can cause back pain, not only a bed problem only for an example. you need a diagnosis before hopping around to all these people who haven't given you an answer or a relief.
@GreenMoo (11842)
6 Mar 11
I didn't say that the chiropractors and the physio I have seen have not given me an answer or relief. All three types of therapist are experts in their field. Who do you suggest if not one of them?